The Perfect Day…

A text reads, ‘nite’…

A silent hug says, “I apologize”…

And an hour filled with, “Good Morning” and “Hello, how are you?”…Is simply the perfect way to live.

I had a perfect day today.

Working for the elderly affords me the pleasure of greeting at least a dozen happy senior citizens each morning. They are on their way to meet friends, take an exercise class, catch the bus to do a little shopping, or just meander about. Every one of them greets me ‘HELLO’ with a genuine, ‘I’m so glad to see you’ smile that reaches their eyes and deepens their laugh lines. It puts a spring in my step the rest of the day.

I encounter one man at the same time every day during his daily walk, wearing hot pink pants and carrying lime green weights… one in each hand. I am guessing he is in his 90s, and they are most likely one pound weights. Without fail our eyes meet and his face breaks out in a wide grin as he puts a little jaunt in his step, nods his head ‘good morning’ and continues down the hall. Another woman I run into is proud of her RED Reeboks… I make sure to compliment her excellent choice of footwear and she BEAMS, not remembering she told me the story of her purchasing them at least a dozen times already. I’ll listen a dozen more as if it’s the first I ever heard it. Each day I am reminded that making a person smile is all the payment required. It’s a two way street… I give as many smiles as I get.

A hug given in silence and totally unexpected tells me the person was sorry for their actions… and I can let go of the ‘grudge’ that consumes me. It wasn’t expected, or asked for… which made it all the more special. Which reminds me of a story in the Huffington Post I read a week or so ago. This woman, who won an achievement award for her poetry she had written about her ugly divorce was quoted as saying, “All I ever wished for was for my husband to take me by the hand and apologize”. See… life is simple. An apology can mean so much.

As far as the text goes. I have a friend that will text, “Nite”. That’s all… just, “Nite”… and I feel so special. I’m single and it’s so comforting to know someone thought enough of me to simply say Good Night. Another friend will text a picture of his adorable puppy when they think I need to smile… and yet another will upon occasion text me, “Morning Princess”. Nothing else needs to be said… no long conversations. Sometimes just a simple word will do.

I guess I’m just a simple girl.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

I’ve got it!!! I think I have figured out why all the wealthy people are always thin and have ‘work done’… it’s their mirrors!!!!

In the past few weeks I have been fortunate to stay in some very nice, *ahem*, upscale accommodations. First in Maine, and second in Myrtle Beach, SC. Each place was decorated  in good taste, each had jacuzzi’s and each had more than it’s share of mirrors.

Now, I understand when decorating small spaces the judicious placement of mirrors accomplishes two major issues… One, the room appears larger than it really is, and two light bounces around making the place more cheery. In the last place I stayed in the mirrors brought the ocean into the room also… a very nice touch. But SERIOUSLY… do I really need to see myself up close and personal in SIX full length mirrors?

Not only were they oversized… but in small spaces they are close… too close. Every time I stood up from the kitchen counter and turned around I was startled to see an old woman staring back at me. Who was that old lady and where did she come from, I would ask myself. Oh crap! That’s ME! YIKES!

At least a dozen times a day I was reminded I needed to lose 40 pounds. Oh joy! And a facelift wouldn’t hurt either.  Hmmmm… maybe that’s the sadistic decorator’s way of getting guests up and out of the room to use their fitness center… a subliminal message.

And the bathroom… UGH! As if the 4′ by 6’ wall mirror over the double sink isn’t enough to make you cry… the thoughtful decorators mounted a make up mirror for you to pull out from the wall to see every pore, mole, and wrinkle on your old weathered face… and it’s LIGHTED, just to make sure your feeble eyes don’t miss a single crevice.

I won’t even mention the ones surrounding the jacuzzi!!! Really! You get a full view of yourself reflected back to infinity… in your rumpled birthday suit.

Just once I wish the decorators would take pity on us and install the fun mirrors like the ones in the circus… especially the ones that make you look tall and skinny.

My home has a total of five small mirrors. Each bathroom has one over the sink, a full length in the upstairs hall to make sure no panty lines are showing and two in the living room to enlarge the space and bounce the light (see, I learned that trick too). How many more does one house need?

I guess if I were wealthy I could afford more mirrors, and if I had more mirrors I would see more fat and wrinkles. That would be OK… because then I would be able to afford plastic surgery, tennis lessons, a dietician, a personal trainer, and a yoga instructor. Oh… and a house keeper, because doing all those things would take up my day and I wouldn’t have the time to clean or cook.

Boy, I’m glad I’m not wealthy! I can just be me… a middle class, soft around the center, prune faced, individual. If I choose my clothes carefully and dab on a touch of makeup I am ‘good to go’. I have time to read, knit, write… whatever I want because I don’t have a lot of mirrors in my home.

How many mirrors do YOU have???

Five Minute Friday – Again

It’s Friday!!! Yippie! That means it’s time for Five Minute Friday!!

Each Friday a whole bunch of us from around the globe check out the word prompt at Lisa Jo Baker’s Site, set our timers, and TYPE. Whatever comes into our head. No editing, no second guessing, no deleting. No one is judging you on grammar, spelling, punctuation, or syntax. It is so freeing… AND surprising. Then we link up our post on her site for all to admire 🙂 Join us!!!

Here goes. The word today is AGAIN

Valentine’s Day is coming around again. Ugh! I dislike this Hallmark Holiday. Nothing good ever happens to me on Valentine’s Day. Well… I take that back, ONE Valentine’s Day was very special… and almost gave me faith the day was worth celebrating.

As I walked through the door I glanced around. A chocolate ‘speed cake” sat in the middle of the table, all iced and on a pedestal. The chicken, broccoli, and red peppers cut up and ready to stir fry. Silverware, plates, glasses all set to perfection. Ahhh… Valentine’s Day. So THIS is what all the hoopla is about. Perfection.

I watch as guys scramble to buy flowers, chocolates, and teddy bears… again… the same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Again, and again, and again. When will they discover that is NOT what most woman hope for? Just make them feel special that day. Acknowledge you are happy they are in your life… extra cuddle time, make a special card with your own two hands, plan an activity together. It really is that simple.

I would give almost anything to have a chocolate ‘speed cake’ sit in the middle of my table on Valentine’s Day again.

DONE! Phew!!!

See? This is what I mean about being surprised at what you write. I had no clue this was bothering me. All week I have been bombarded with advertisements suggesting gifts or get aways with your loved one for Valentine’s Day. When did this holiday get so out of control??

I have been married twice… and not ONE Valentine’s Day pops into my head as memorable. Dinner out, a store bought card, and a heart shaped box of chocolates purchased on his way home from work… the same as a billion other women received. Oh yeah, that made me feel special.

No.. only one Valentine’s Day stays in my heart. The one where the guy I was dating at the time went out of his way to make the day special for my daughter and me. THAT made me feel special.

It doesn’t take diamonds, a dinner out in a crowded restaurant, an expensive weekend get-away, or a box of chocolates to make us happy… although truth be told I would never turn my nose up at the diamonds, or a new car for that matter… but seriously… my heart melted over a 99 cent boxed cake mix and a $1.29 tub of icing. It was the execution of pulling the night off that made me feel loved.

 

 

Damn!

After working all week on my story… I have come to the realization my fabulous beginning makes a much better ending. The whole story flows better that way when I map it out in outline form.

It’s not THAT big a deal… it’s still written well and only a few minor changes need to be made to accommodate… but now I’m stuck searching for a good beginning point. I need a ‘hook’ to pull readers into the story fast and entice them to read more.

Strange thing though… I’m learning it is easier to plan a book from the end to the beginning. Working backwards allows me to pace the story without running out of time… and prevents rambling on too much in one particular area. Is it a coincidence I do maze puzzles the same way?? I start at the end of a maze and move my pencil towards the beginning… not unlike meeting goals when you think about it. You set a goal, then plan the stages you need to accomplish the goal. So I guess I’m doing what comes naturally.

IMG_0249It’s so easy to work in these conditions. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get home.

How many notebooks does it take to write a book? In my case, 3. One that has my notes I made while taking an online refresher course, another for my character development, structure and outline and finally the last for jotting down scenes and thoughts I want to fit in the book but am not ready for yet. There is nothing better than watching the paper curl at the edges when you begin to write on the back side. I love the permanence of pen and paper… the smell of the ink… the crispness of the paper… the way the pen glides across the surface. Ahhh… nice.

Once things are formed in my head… THEN I go to the computer and start typing… and type, and type, and type some more. There have been times I became so involved in the story I forgot to move for hours! My biggest wish is when all is said and done you get so involved reading my story YOU don’t move for hours.

Good News – Bad News

Day 3 -Myrtle Beach

So…. How’s that book of mine coming along?? Well… it’s coming. Slowly but surely, it’s coming.

Monday was a dream. Words flowed out of my finger tips across the keyboard at the speed of light. All 1,609 of them. AND… they are all ‘keepers’… meaning I like them so much they should make it through the re-writing process unscathed.

Tuesday wasn’t as productive. I spent most of the day finishing up an online writing course which was extremely informative… although most of it was simply a repeat of things I already knew just presented in a new light. However… it DID remind me that I am trying to write my memoir, but have it read like fiction.

So today, Wednesday after dropping my car off at the dealer’s for repair… I spent my time planning structure and character development INSTEAD of writing actual words for the book. Don’t let me mislead you… some of what I wrote today will end up in the book… it’s just I’m not calculating them in the word count because I haven’t PLACED them yet.

Time for Good news – Bad news.

Bad News – My car has been giving me troubles off and on and not always starting. It’s not a battery problem. I never knew when I would have issues or not. On the way down here Sunday it worked fine… until I arrived at check-in. It took 20 minutes before the blasted car would finally fire up and I could park it in the lot. THAT was embarrassing!!

Good News – There is a Volvo Dealer 5 miles down the road and can schedule a repair this week.

Bad News – It’s the coldest day down here in YEARS… and my car decides to not start… not even 20 minutes later. So I call the dealer to let them know I will be late. I begin to freeze. I didn’t bring warm clothing.

Good News – My daughter purchased AAA coverage for me before I left. I’m told someone will be here in 30 minutes.

More Good News – The AAA guy gets my car started! Due to his 35 years of road side assistance experience, he deduced the problem was my starter. He popped the hood and tapped the starter with a piece of pipe while I turned the key and Vrrrroooommm! I drove straight to the dealer.

Bad News – The dealer agrees it’s the starter… but they don’t have one in stock. The car won’t be fixed until tomorrow.

Good News – While waiting for the service department to arrange a ride back to the resort for me… I struck up a conversation with a nice woman waiting for her car. She told me all the fun places I need to go while down here. Where to eat, what to see, what to bring home. So tomorrow, once my car is repaired I plan on playing hooky. Pawley’s Island is calling me and I understand Roz’s Rice Mill makes a Shrimp and Grits to die for… not to be overshadowed by Hog Heaven’s BBQ and slaw to bring back to the condo for dinner.

Now… if I only had a place to hang a hammock back home. I understand the first rope hammocks were made on Pawley’s Island and they still make them today. Hmmm….

 

 

Beach Treasures…

Day 2 – Myrtle Beach

Before going to sleep last night I opened the door to the balcony so I could drift off to the sound of the surf… The closest thing to camping on the beach… but in total luxurious comfort. I woke to the sun rising across my face and the temperature dropping fast.

As I jumped up to close the door and curtains something in the water caught my attention. Dolphins! A pod of about 10 dolphins were playing in the surf. What a way to start my day!!

Not a soul in sight for miles and miles and miles.

                       My private beach… except for the one guy walking his dog.

No one was on the beach today. The weather was unusually chilly for this time of year… 47 degrees… which kept everyone inside. Good for me! I felt like I was on a private island all by myself. I found the weather delightful… as did one other man who was walking his dog.     — No Kathleen, it was NOT my prince charming. Bummer. —

ShellsI went on a ‘treasure hunt’ and gathered some broken pieces of shells and rocks that had washed up on the sand. I began picking only whole shells with unusual coloring or markings, but soon found I was attracted to all the different broken ones. Some clam shells were so thick you just knew they had to be OLD. Black gnarly ones, grey pitted spirals, and ridge shaped scallops all found a place in my heart. I was as giddy as a school girl examining each piece evaluating its texture and color before adding it to my bag. I can’t wait to get home to capture some of them in a watercolor. Just because they are broken, doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful. Huh… kind of like people.

I hear it’s 19 degrees back home in New Jersey with snow on the ground… and more expected on Friday. I send you warmth from the south…

IMG_0217

 

I notice some differences in the South Carolina beach and New Jersey beach. Number one being SC’s are FREE… but there’s more. The sand is smoother and whiter in South Carolina where New Jersey’s is more yellow and course. The shells are more diverse in SC. However, the one thing that really caught my attention is in two days I have not seen a boat or ship go by. New Jersey and New York has a huge shipping industry so freighters go by on a daily basis… not to mention fishing boats. Where are all the fishing boats here in South Carolina??

Occasionally a helicopter will fly over the SC beaches… but no aircraft is seen or heard otherwise. I am used to all kinds of noise at the NJ beaches, even off season. Here in SC it is so quiet… and peaceful… and carefree.

Not much writing on the book today. I spent most of my day studying an online writing course. I finished it up today. All in all it was informative, but I can’t say I learned much that was new. I would consider it a wonderful refresher and a super motivator.

Ta-ta for now. Stay warm up north you guys!

 

Day 1 – Myrtle Beach

Ahhh…. Paradise!!! I woke up to this breath taking view out my window this morning…

Yes, my view really is this fabulous!

                      Yes, my view really is this fabulous!

It was hard to leave my bed this morning, it was so comfy. The huge king sized bed with six, count them, SIX super comfy pillows, fluffy light weight comforter and pillow top mattress begged me to stay. I felt like royalty being cradled in a cloud. However the beautiful sunrise called my name… so I relented and rolled out to take a look. Ohhhh, ahhhhh, pretty.

Having a condo with a full kitchen is so nice. I packed a lot of my own food and favorite utensils, so throwing breakfast together was no big deal. Fresh fruit topped with yogurt and granola eaten on the balcony overlooking the ocean… Does life GET any better???

PicMonkey Collage

I finally settled down to work… the real reason I came here… around 8:00 AM. Setting up my computer on the balcony seemed like a good idea. I could drink my fresh French-pressed coffee out of my favorite Mickey Tumbler and type all while enjoying the view.

Type, type, type. Backspace, delete. Cut and paste. After four hours of non stop work I have 1,609 words I feel make a pretty good effort for today. Only 78,000… give or take… more to go. In reality I have much more typed up… they just need editing and such. For now however I feel I have a good start.

NOON! Break time!!  I think I’ll go for a long walk on the beach.

Any idea what THIS  is? What it is used for???

??????????????

                                         ??????????????

At first, from a distance I thought silly people were bringing their golf clubs onto the beach. Myrtle Beach IS a golf town after all. The top is a golf club shaft with a slotted spoon in place of a head. Yes… it is to sift through the sand and water… but do you know what everyone is looking for??? If you guessed shells, valuables, or sea glass… Bzzzzzz… you would be wrong.

Walking along the beach today I mustered up enough courage and curiosity to stop and ask someone. Rosie, a delightful 73 year young woman from Iowa filled me in. Wearing a Myrtle Beach sweatshirt, sun visor and what I grew up calling ‘clamdiggers’, not shorts and not capris but somewhere in the middle, she explained. Her husband John has made about a hundred of these and gives them to anyone who asks. They are for finding…. Shark’s teeth! While Rosie and I stood in the chilly water and talked she found two! Her eagle eyes spotted them quickly. She scoops them up and places them in this plastic tube she wears around her neck with rubber end caps… shore treasures for her grandchildren. Lucky them!

Before returning back to work I thought a walk into town would be a good idea… WRONG!!! I’m guessing during the slow season you need to be careful what areas you walk through. I was only four blocks south and one block west of my hotel, going through a more residential neighborhood… clearly walking with a purpose AND on the sidewalk. A white Escalade slows down, passes me, then stops in the road. Uh-oh… we’re not in Kansas any more Toto. I grab my cell phone and pretend I’m talking with someone. As I come even with the truck the passenger side window slides down and a big guy leans over the seat from the driver’s side. “Do you need a ride?” “No thank you”, I reply. Gulp.

He turned left down the next street, but circled back up behind me. I  could hear the rumble of the mufflers way before I could see him. By then I was up on the major highway and quickly ducked inside a souvenier store… where I stayed for about a half an hour… and purchased a pair of cheap water shoes.

Mental note… Walk only on the beach and DRIVE everywhere else from now on!!!! Lesson learned!!!

The sun is setting and the fog is rolling in. Tomorrow is supposed to be chilly. I am so glad I took the time to get outside in the fresh air and sun today.

I must have been a flower in a past life… I THRIVE in sunshine and near water.

 

On The Road… Once Again…

After a 10 hour drive (with a few stops along the way… one being a BEAD store) I finally arrived at my ‘home away from home’ for the next 6 days… WESTGATE RESORTS in Myrtle Beach, SC.

The drive was basically uneventful. Listening to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls kept me awake. I read the book when it first came out… yet since I am here in SC to work on MY book I thought I would remind myself what a dysfunctional family is really like. Wow!!! Although my story is interesting… I have nothing as crazy as her life to share!!! What a mess!

Do you remember my post Pennies From Heaven? In it I mentioned my husband left me a large cloth bag filled with fifty cent pieces. I TRIED to deposit them into my bank account, yet there was a hitch. In order to deposit them, they MUST be wrapped. However… no one sells the wrappers and the bank didn’t have any. So……….. I decided to use them to pay the tolls on the way down. HYSTERICAL!!! The faces of the toll takers were priceless. I kind of wish I had taken photos. One guy was so confused he had to recount the $4.60 toll (9 fifty cent pieces and a dime) six times before he ‘got it’. Another one handed them back to me and said he could only accept US Coins… REALLY!!!

The staff here at WESTGATE is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!! The first room I was given was entirely too big for just me. It consisted of a huge condo unit complete with full kitchen, glassed in shower in the master bath and a giant jacuzzi too! PLUS… an entirely separate unit with another bed, shower, jacuzzi, and mini kitchen. I’m not sure, but I might be the first guest to complain the room was much more than expected and ask for something smaller… with a view.

Tara and Leighanne at the front desk listened closely and understood the problem immediately. They promptly set me up in a smaller unit… at the END of the hall… WITH a FULL OCEAN VIEW!!! How inspiring!!!! I will take pictures tomorrow once I have unpacked my camera.

Patty directed me to the parking… and told me where I can pick up a pair of sneakers. Silly me forgot to pack my walking sneakers for my daily walk on the beach… hmmm… I think it may be warm enough to go barefoot. I’ll have to check that out tomorrow. No need to pack a bathing suit… I intend to use the jacuzzi every night in the privacy of my own room. Besides… me… in a bathing suit is not a pretty sight!

I am thrilled to be here and can’t wait to get down to business. Each day I will post my word count for the day.

All deliveries of flowers and/or chocolate will be accepted with open arms.

Five-Minute Friday… Cherished

Welcome to Five-Minute Friday! Look at this as a flash mob of writers across the globe all receiving the same writing prompt and taking 5 minutes to write about it. No time to worry about grammar, punctuation, or syntax… just WRITE! Whatever comes to my mind for five minutes is what gets printed.

This is my very first Five-Minute Friday. Feel free to tell me what you think!

CHERISHED!

Cuddled up on the other side of the bed you see my eyes are closed and my breathing is slow and steady. I feel the bed shift as you slip out from under the covers and walk to my side. You look down at me with a sweet look. I keep my eyes shut reveling in the moment. With one finger you gently whisk my hair away from my face, slowly bend over and give me the lightest kiss on my cheek. It is more of a whisper really, than a kiss.

You hover for a moment, watching me breathe, studying my face.  I feel the covers move as you pull them up over my shoulders and tuck me in. Your hand reaches the light switch on my bedside lamp. Click, the light goes out.

Quietly you move around to your side and slip easily back into bed and turn your light off. I smile. I am not asleep. I am cherished.

I love you too.

I miss you.

Heat!!!!

Tom Rostron HVAC to the rescue!!!

Last week my heater began to make a funny noise whenever the fan would kick in. Rumble, rumble, clank. Just when I decided I should call someone to take a look, an oily ‘motor’ smell started to permeate the house at the same time. “Uh Oh, I’d better make this call now, before the whole thing breaks down”, I thought to myself.

Who to call??? Hmmmm…

I moved back to my ‘stomping grounds’ two years ago and remember seeing trucks emblazoned with Tom Rostron HVAC and smiled. Tom grew up down the street from me. Through the powers of Facebook we connected a few months ago and met for lunch. He talked about his family, boats, fishing, and his company… in that order. I was thrilled for him as he exuded happiness from every pore of his being. It’s so nice to see an old friend do so well.

So… Fondly remembering our lunch, I dialed the phone number for their business. A cheerful voice answered, took my information and assured me someone would be at my house the next day to check out the heater. I still had heat, so there was no emergency… although an emergency call could be arranged if necessary.

As expected, the next morning I received a call from Pat… the Tom Rostron employee who would be coming to my house, saying he would be there in about a half an hour. Exactly a half an hour later… ding dong… he was at my door.

Sadly Pat had to condemn my old beat up furnace. It had seized its last breath of hot air. Time to break the bank account and purchase a new unit. From there the rest is a blur… another employee, Bill arrived to evaluate the house and estimate what I would need… and make sure we had space heaters for the night and would be comfortable. The next morning Mike and Chris arrived to remove the old unit and install the new one. By 4:00PM my new heater was humming and pumping out hot air… just as promised by Bill!

Nasty old furnace on driveway waiting to be picked up... along with cardboard and packaging of the new one.

Nasty old furnace on driveway waiting to be picked up… along with cardboard and packaging of the new one.

Everyone I dealt with was professional, knowledgable, friendly, nice, and respectful of my home. I felt comfortable with them all, as if we were old friends. And speak about CLEAN!!! Every piece of the old unit and trash from the new one was removed. PLUS… you have to see their trucks! Not a speck of dirt, or grease mark to be found.

Super clean and organized truck!

                           Super clean and organized truck!

Yes, Tom is an old friend… and some of you might think my opinion is biased… you would be wrong. I had such a wonderful, and stress free experience in a situation that could have easily sent me off the deep end. And no, Tom did not intercede to make my experience a good one… I don’t think even knew I called his company in the first place. I had a good experience because they are just that good!!!

When I am ready to have my tankless hot water heater installed… I will certainly call Tom Rostron HVAC to handle the job!!!

Side note: Every employee expressed they were happy with their job and working for Tom Rostron… AND when I mentioned I knew him, they all smiled and said what a great guy he was to work for! They genuinely meant it.